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Subaru Telescope's Image Captures the Intricacy of Comet Lovejoy's Tail  
An international team of astronomers led by Prof. Jin Koda used Suprime-Cam, Subaru Telescope's wide-field, prime-focus camera, to capture an image of the intricate flow of comet Lovejoy's ion tail. The instrument's combination of a wide field of view and high spatial resolution provides a clear delineation of the complex, wiggling streams in the tail. At the time of this observation, at around 5:30 am on December 3, 2013 (Hawaii Standard Time), comet Lovejoy was 50 million miles (80 million km) distant from Earth and 80 million miles (130 million km) away from the Sun.

Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) was discovered in September this year. At dawn on October 31, 2013, the Subaru Telescope made its first image, together with an image of comet ISON (C2012 S1). Although comet ISON did not survive its closest encounter with the Sun and disappeared from the sky, comet Lovejoy's visibility has been increasing.

The variety of approaches used to image and analyze comet Lovejoy will lead to a much clearer view of its detailed structure. As Jin Koda commented, "Subaru Telescope offers a rare combination of large telescope aperture and a wide-field camera. This enabled us to capture a detailed look at the nucleus while also photogenically framing inner portions of Comet Lovejoy's impressive ion tail."

See also the Subaru press release.

2013-12-05

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